Norwich City U21s travel to Portsmouth this weekend for Saturday’s Leasing.com Trophy game against last-season’s winners at Fratton Park (12:30pm KO).
The Canaries began Southern Group B with a 2-1 defeat away to Oxford United on Tuesday September 3, while Portsmouth beat Crawley Town 1-0.
At Kassam Stadium, Shae Hutchinson gave City the lead thanks to a well-timed through ball from William Hondermarck, but United responded with a controversial equaliser from Cameron Brannagan before Shandon Baptiste grabbed a late winner.
As for Pompey, their three points came by way of substitute Brett Pitman, whose 70th minute strike was enough to give Kenny Jackett’s side the slim victory.
Following a mixed opening four games to the 2019-20 season, Portsmouth have begun to use cup competitions to their advantage form-wise. Pompey have only won one of their League One games so far, losing two and drawing two, but three cup wins have helped keep spirits up.
The League One table doesn’t make for particularly enjoyable reading for Portsmouth fans then, as their side sit 18th with five points from as many matches, but they’ve only failed to score in one of their eight games in all competitions, and that was back on the opening day.
Since then, Marcus Harness has led the way for Pompey’s goalscoring exploits. He’s notched three of Pompey’s 13 goals in seven games, but it’s been their inability to hold onto leads that has let them down. So far this season, Portsmouth have dropped seven points from winning positions. Had they protected those, they’d be in and around the play-off places.
The EFL Trophy, last season named the Checkatrade Trophy, was a competition Portsmouth took seriously last year, so much so that they went all the way to lifting the trophy at Wembley in March, following a 2-2 draw with Sunderland (Portsmouth won 5-4 on penalties).
In his pre-match interview, Norwich U21s skipper Akin Famewo has said that the squad are looking forward to another big opportunity to showcase their abilities against Portsmouth.
"The boys are training well, and we feel like this is going to be another good challenge," he said. "We’re the underdogs again so we’ve got nothing to lose. That takes all the pressure off players who might feel it. That gives us a good platform to go and have a good challenge.
"Fratton Park is a great stadium to play at, and hopefully there will be a big audience. That will be a good experience and learning curve for a lot of us."